Go Blue Archive - September 2009
The beginning of the new academic year is a particularly enjoyable annual milestone, and I am pleased that it coincides so closely this year with my monthly Go Blue message. We got off to a great start last Friday with the Maine Hello new student move-in activities, followed by a successful (although rainy) Fall Welcome Weekend. The members of the Class of 2013 are now acclimated and prepared to begin their studies, and we are glad to have them in our community.
Every year, it seems to me that the Maine Hello gets better. We had 700 or so volunteers, including students who did all the heavy lifting, chipping in last weekend to make our new students and their families feel welcome. The Maine Hello is a great example of UMaine’s community spirit, and it really helps get things started on a positive note. I congratulate all those who work so hard to organize this massive effort, particularly E.J. Roach, Tara Loomis, Gus Burkett, their colleagues in UMaine’s Division of Student Affairs, along with Liz Downing from New Student Programs. They assemble a remarkable team from all across campus and that effort really pays off.
I am delighted that projections indicate a year-to-year increase in overall student enrollment, at an estimated 11.925. While our first-year class is somewhat smaller than last year’s, improved retention and other factors appear to have more than offset that decline. This marks the 12th consecutive year of increased enrollment, which really reflects the widespread appreciation of UMaine’s quality and value.
The retention data are particularly interesting and encouraging. We estimate that 79.4 percent of those students who started with us last year are returning this year. That’s a year-to-year increase of three percentage points. There are undoubtedly a number of reasons for this, but it is safe to say that retention is another indication that our students are having good experiences. Academic and student life programming, plus all the support we provide students in various ways, combine to create that positive student experience and every faculty member and staff member at UMaine plays an important role.
I would like to thank and compliment all those who work so hard help build our student population every year through their work in admissions (Director Sharon Oliver), student financial aid (Director Peggy Crawford), student records (Director Tammy Light) and bursar (Dennis Casey). It is an enormous undertaking, with several moving parts, but all that work pays off when we get to this point each year.
As always, we had a number of achievements and positive developments from the month of August. More details are always available on the Inside UMaine website (www.umaine.edu/insideumaine). To keep up with UMaine news on a daily basis, you can also visit the UMaine Today Online site (www.umaine.edu/umainetoday), where you will also find information about subscribing to receive news via email each day.
- It was a lot of fun to be present Friday night on the Bangor waterfront, when the Pride of Maine Black Bear Marching Band helped kick of the American Folk Festival in style. Band director Chris White and his students worked very hard to get ready in a short time, and their performance was just terrific. The audience reaction was wonderful, and the band represented UMaine in a fist-class way. It’s too bad that the band’s Saturday performance was rained out, but I’m sure their great effort has earned many return invitations in the years to come.
- UMaine’s Highmoor Farm in Monmouth had a wonderful centennial celebration a couple of weeks ago. Held on a spectacular day, the event brought together people from Maine’s agriculture community and others who appreciate the long-term value of this beautiful central Maine facility where UMaine researchers work on studying crops like apples, strawberries, sweet corn and other fruits and vegetables, along with contemporary approaches to composting. Congratulations to farm superintendent Greg Koller and all those from the UMaine College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture and UMaine Cooperative Extension who make Highmoor Farm such an important facility.
- We were delighted to host a visit by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud, who toured UMaine’s AEWC: Advanced Structures and Composites Center to learn more about the center’s bridge in a backpack technology. Secretary LaHood made it clear how impressed he was with that technology and all of the center’s transportation-related initiatives. He told the audience assembled and the news media that he will invited Prof. Habib Dagher to Washington to describe this work to other members of President Obama’s cabinet interested in “green” technologies.
- A group of UMaine faculty members, led by Prof. Kristin Sobolik, has created a course and semester-long program aimed at celebrating Charles Darwin’s contributions to scientific though. “A Celebration of Darwin” is an exciting and ambitious undertaking with an interesting public outreach component. Each of the class lectures is also open to members of the public who are interested in the subject and the perspectives to be shared by a number of UMaine professors. A lecture schedule is online at http://www.umaine.edu/news/home/celebration-of-darwin-class-meeting-and-lecture-schedule/. The celebration will also feature a week-long series of programs related to Darwin in November.
- Congratulations to the UMaine Classified Employees Scholarship Committee for another successful ice creasm social fundraiser. Many members of our community look forward to this annual summer event, in part because the ice cream is so good but also because they know that the event supports a terrific cause, a scholarship fund that provides assistance for the children of UMaine classified employees.
- I’m really enjoying the new UMaine website, which features a clean, contemporary appearance and lots of new features. If you haven’t checked it out in detail yet, I encourage you in particular to visit the undergraduate admissions site at www.go.umaine.edu and the UMaine Today magazine site at umainetoday.umaine.edu/. Those sites and many others feature new content, packaged in interesting and creative ways. The new Web presence has been months in the making and I’d like to particularly thank personnel from University Relations (Chris Smith, Caroline Moore and Tim Moore) and Information Technologies (Andy Moody and Todd Berry) for their efforts. I look forward to seeing more and more UMaine units convert their Web pages to this new format.
- Kudos to Prof. Darrell Donahue from the UMaine Dept. of Chemical and Biological Engineering upon his appointment to serve on a Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) expert panel looking at Approaches to Animal Health Risk Assessment. That panel will work on a report for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, assessing the condition and comprehensiveness of animal health science risk assessment techniques. This work has significant implications relative to human health. The CCA is highly prestigious, and Darrell’s appointment demonstrates his international stature in his academic discipline.
- Once again, UMaine Cooperative Extension has identified a significant need in our state and has responded accordingly. Recognizing the stressful conditions in Maine’s agriculture industry, and noting that the farming life can be difficult even under the best of conditions, Extension has assembled a variety of online resources to help farmers and others in that industry find ways to deal with those stresses, which are exacerbated by things like unfavorable weather conditions and dififcult economic times. This information can be extremely valuable to those who need it most, and I congratulate Executive Director John Rebar and his colleagues for stepping in where they are needed.
- I would also like to note a sad development from the month of August: the death of legendary UMaine professor Edward “Sandy” Ives. A member of the UMaine English and anthropology faculties for 44 years, Sandy died at the age of 83. He founded UMaine’s Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History, now known as the Maine Folklife Center, and his contributions to his academic field, and to the UMaine community, are impossible to describe. The genuine outpouring of support and recollections after Sandy’s death was truly remarkable and heartwarming.
- We have selected the Go Blue dates for the fall semester, and I’m pleased to note that we’ve deviated from the usual pattern a bit and added a Thursday, Sept. 3. The Black Bears will take on St. Cloud State that night, in the season-opening game and we’re hoping a little extra Go Blue spirit will help Coach Cosgrove’s team get off to a good start. We encourage members of the UMaine community to wear blue and/or UMaine clothing on the following days, to celebrate pride in UMaine:
- Friday August 28
- Thursday September 3 (the home opener for the Black Bear football team)
- Friday, October 2
- Friday, October 16
- Friday, November 20
- Friday, December 11
As I conclude this month’s message, I’d like to encourage each of you to visit UMaine’s new H1N1 information and advisory website (umaine.edu/h1n1). Our H1N1 planning group, headed up by Dept. of Safety and Environmental Management Director Wayne Maines, began meeting in April to plan for various contingencies related to this virus. That work has continued through the summer, with meetings at least once a week and involving people from throughout our community. It is a substantial, coordinated effort intended to help assure the health and safety of our students, faculty members, staff members and visitors when the virus becomes an issue. Communication is a key, and that website provides the focal point for providing reliable information. I hope you will visit it regularly and turn to is should you be seeking specific information.
My best wishes for a productive and enjoyable month of September.